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Novelist Brad Watson to read, talk about work at ASU


September 01, 2010

Author Brad Watson, who started his career as a newspaper reporter and editor for the Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery, Ala., and went on to write prize-winning short stories and novels, will make two public appearances at ASU this month.

First, he will discuss his work at a Public Craft Q&A at 1:30 p.m., Sept. 9, in the Piper Writers House, ASU’s Tempe campus.

Then, he will read from his newest book, “Aliens in The Prime of Their Lives,” and sign copies, at 7:45 p.m., Sept. 9 in Coor Hall room 170, also on the Tempe campus. Both events are free and open to the public.

Watson was born in Meridian, Miss., and received his MFA in creative writing and American literature from the University of Alabama.

He returned to the University of Alabama to teach in 1988, where for a while he also worked for UA University Relations before taking a position as a lecturer in the Department of English.

In 1997, Watson received a five-year appointment to teach fiction writing at Harvard University, and served as director of creative writing in the Department of English and American Literature and Language from 1999-2002.

Before joining the MFA faculty at the University of Wyoming, he was writer in residence at several universities, and received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

His stories and non-fiction have been published in numerous magazines and in anthologies, ranging from Granta, Narrative and The Oxford American, to The New Yorker.

His books include “Last Days of the Dog-Men,” which received the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Great Lakes Colleges New Writers Award in 1997; “The Heaven of Mercury,” which received the Southern Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Fiction, and was a finalist for the 2002 National Book Award in Fiction; and “Aliens in The Prime of Their.” His books have been published in The UK, Germany, France, Poland, and China.

One reviewer wrote of his work, “Mr. Watson's rare talent shines and dazzles whenever he dives deep into the lives of ordinary people and comes up, almost effortlessly, with buried treasures that have blessed and cursed humanity….”

For more information about the reading and Q&A, contact the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, (480) 965-6018, or www.asu.edu/piper.


An excerpt from Watson’s story, “Visitation,” which appeared in The New Yorker:

“Loomis had never believed that line about the quality of despair being that it was unaware of being despair. He’d been painfully aware of his own despair for most of his life. Most of his troubles had come from attempts to deny the essential hopelessness in his nature.

“To believe in the viability of nothing, finally, was socially unacceptable, and he had tried to adapt, to pass as a believer, a hoper. He had taken prescription medicine, engaged in periods of vigorous, cleansing exercise, declared his satisfaction with any number of fatuous jobs and foolish relationships. Then one day he’d decided that he should marry, have a child, and he told himself that if one was open-minded these things could lead to a kind of contentment, if not to exuberant happiness.

“That’s why Loomis was in the fix he was in now.”